Thursday, November 22, 2007

Movie Review: Beowulf

Beowulf PosterMovie Title: Beowulf
Starring: Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright-Penn, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Drama
My Rating: 7.5/10

Honestly, I had low expectations before going to see this movie. The only reason I went, was that it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was going to stay in town, and some friends were going. Overall, it wasn't a bad experience.

However, this movie could have just been brilliant with the right screenplay and flow. Great actors, undeniably great special effects and a well-known legendary fairy tale to adapt. I even remember reading "Beowulf and Grendel" as a chapter in World Literature during my undergraduate studies.

The story starts in 7th Century,A.D., when Christianity was still in the process of spreading to Scandinavia. Ray Winstone (Mr. French from The Departed, Sexy Beast) plays the title character, a fearless Saxon warrior/freelancer who travels to Denmark in pursuit of killing a monster for a reward. The monster, Grendel, harasses the town folk of the local kingdom every time there is any merry-making. Grendel is horrific with an incomplete body structure yet huge and strong, and enjoys breaking people into halves. Anthony Hopkins plays the local drunk-king Hrothgar, speaking with his natural Welsh accent and portraying his role exceptionally well. Robin Wright-Penn acts as his younger, dignified and unhappy queen whom Beowulf has an eye for.

The real villain in this story is not Grendel, but his mother - the sea-serpent, played by Angelia Jolie, a gold-coated seductress with unbeatable magical powers and a long hair-tail. Jolie's really learning to play a bad mother very well, remember Alexander? John Malkovich was wasted as the king's chancellor-equivalent.

Another good performance in this film which could probably go under-appreciated is of Brendan Gleeson's. He plays Beowulf's second in command, a red-bearded bulky believer in his leader - very similar to his role in Braveheart, actually.

Contrary to what one may conclude based on the posters and trailer, this movie is not exactly an animation. Well, it is animation in parts. Real actors acted in front of a blue-screen in a studio, more than just lend their voices. Similar to the movie 300, with much of CGI. They were just all digitally "enhanced." 50 year old and bulky Ray Winstone was made to look at least 20 years younger and way fitter. Hopkins was given 50 pounds more. Robin Wright-Penn looked younger than in her current 40's. Jolie was just given just the golden touch and the hair-tail.

Even with the uber praiseworthy graphics/CGI/animation/SFX in general, this movie lacked a brilliant enough screenplay! If you like fantasy movies with monsters, brave slayers, dragons and curses that are supposed to have a moral ending hidden somewhere if you're too bored to figure it out, check out this movie on DVD. Watch it in the theater only if you're an SFX freak. I'm shocked this movie got a PG-13 rating rather than an "R".

7.5/10. Entertaining, keeps you awake throughout. Quite a winter movie.

1 comment:

patrick said...

Beowulf's animation was all around impressive, though the characters' movement reminded me a lot of Shrek. I appreciate the fact that this movie gives a pseudo-education in ancient literature (never had to read the book as a child)